Concern over way council handled case of baby whose parents were homeless

Council social services bosses have been criticised by a family court judge over the way they have handled the case of a baby girl whose parents are trying to turn their lives around after being homeless.

Judge Thomas Greensmith has refused to authorise council plans for adoption after complaining that social services staff had analysed the girl’s case in a “formulaic manner”.

The judge, who has outlined concerns in a ruling on the girl’s case published online following a recent private family court hearing in Liverpool, says social services bosses should re-think and devise a new care plan.

He has not named the family or council involved.

The girl, who is about eight months old, was placed into temporary foster care shortly after been born in November, Judge Greensmith said.

Her parents had been homeless from November to March, but had now found a rented home.

They had admitted experiencing a range of problems, including drug use.

Judge Greensmith said they had to be given credit for making “significant moves towards improving their situation”.

He said council social services bosses had relied on “proforma platforms” to “convey their attempts to conduct and relay their analyses”.

“Unfortunately, the approach in this case has left the court wholly ill-equipped to conduct its own holistic and multi-faceted analysis of the options for the child,” said the judge.

“The analyses presented to the court lack essential ingredients; they are presented in a formulaic manner that undermine the process.”

He said a social worker had produced a statement which appeared to go “through the motions in a formulaic manner” and failed to “provide an appropriate analysis”.

“I invite the local authority to devise a new care plan based on the child remaining in foster care, while a prolonged plan of supported rehabilitation is devised and if possible, implemented,” said the judge.

“Any plan should be specific as to how the parents will receive the assistance they need.”

He added: “My expectation is that the child will remain in foster care for a further 12 to 15 months while work with the parents is undertaken.”

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